Baxter employees across the company logged more than 9 million minutes of physical activity as part of Baxter's third annual BeWell@Baxter Exercise Challenge. Through the Exercise Challenge, which spanned the month of May, employees across Baxter's global locations were challenged to increase their daily physical activity levels, track their minutes and compete to be celebrated as Baxter's Biggest Movers.
This collective 9 million minutes reflects an 80 percent increase from 2011 and represents participation by more than 10,000 employees. From walking, cycling and rock climbing to yoga, swimming, running and spinning to lunchtime walking sessions and bowling, activities were as diverse as most health club offerings.
Across Baxter's facilities in Alathur, Waluj and Manesar, India, more than 740 employees actively participated in brisk walks, a staircase challenge, cricket and volleyball matches, structured fitness sessions and balloon races. They also practiced yoga, played badminton, table tennis and jogged.
"The Exercise Challenge really helped kick off employee awareness and motivation to a new level for us here in India," says Sameer Sharma, Environment, Health and Safety manager for Baxter's facilities in India. "Not only were employees deeply committed to our scheduled exercise activities but they continue with these activities individually, as well."
Almost 500 employees participated in various Exercise Challenge activities at Baxter's facility in Los Angeles, California, United States. Some employees formed softball, basketball and soccer teams and kept up the pace of two games a week. Other employees jogged or walked during their lunch breaks.
"Sometimes I need a goal or a challenge to motivate me to do something for my own benefit. The Exercise Challenge did just that," says Ken Goebel, a project manager at Baxter's Los Angeles facility. "I noticed I had more energy and a heightened awareness of my fitness level and my eating habits. As a result, I lost about 12 pounds and lowered my blood pressure."
Many employees who started exercise routines have continued with them after the Exercise Challenge ended, according to Laura Dale, an occupational health nurse at the Los Angeles facility.
This includes Goebel, who after the Exercise Challenge ended, continued his efforts and lost another four pounds and lowered his blood pressure even further.
Employees at Baxter's Englewood, Colorado, United States, facility received a pedometer on the Exercise Challenge kick-off day. Throughout the month, at the end of each week, three employees with the highest weekly totals won a prize. "With such a beautiful setting here in Colorado, we're always encouraging employees to walk, run, and even bike ride on breaks and lunches," says Molly Everman, the Englewood facility's local BeWell@Baxter coordinator.
To help encourage involvement from family members, employees and their families were invited out for an evening of roller skating at a local skating rink. In addition to the Exercise Challenge, Englewood, like most Baxter facilities, promotes the importance of exercise throughout the year. Englewood has both a bike club and a golf club, both of which are open to employees and their family members.
"Our employees are always eager to get started with the Exercise Challenge," says Louise Conlon, the occupational health nurse at Baxter's Castlebar, Ireland, facility. "This challenge creates a fun 'competitive' spirit within groups and is good for morale."
Baxter's Commitment to Doing Good by Being Well
The Exercise Challenge is just one part of BeWell@Baxter. As a global healthcare company with a mission to save and sustain lives, Baxter takes the health of its employees and their families seriously and recognizes that a healthy, productive workforce is vital to achieving company goals. Baxter also recognizes that being a great company includes providing the benefits and resources to help its more 48,000 employees and their families around the world stay healthy and well.
In addition to its focus on exercise, the company designated November as Healthy Eating Month at Baxter. Healthy Eating Month is designed to help employees and their families focus on good eating habits. Throughout the month, Baxter locations around the world hold nutrition-related activities and events to help employees make a healthy difference in their lives. In 2011, more than 44 percent of employees participated in various events, including cooking contests, quizzes and demonstrations, as well as fresh fruit giveaways and onsite awareness seminars led by registered dieticians.
Both exercise and good nutrition quickly became top priorities after they were identified as key focus areas for employees through aggregate data from the Personal Wellness Profile Tool. This online health risk assessment, made available to all employees through BeWell@Baxter, helps them personally and confidentially review their health status and identify areas for improvement. It is also designed to help employees understand how lifestyle choices, family history and other factors impact their health.
Through BeWell@Baxter, employees have access to other resources, as well. These include a seasonal flu vaccine program, on-site health screenings, a diabetes awareness campaign, and a quarterly health and wellness newsletter.
"I strongly believe that individual employees and the company as a whole can do really good things when we are healthy and well," says Jeanne Mason, Baxter's corporate vice president of Human Resources. "With this in mind, we'll continue to explore ways in which BeWell@Baxter can continue to engage employees in our commitment to doing good by being well."
As part of Baxter's overall commitment to the health and safety of its employees, one of the company's nine sustainability priorities is to "Promote a safe and healthy workplace." Baxter's progress toward this priority is available at http://sustainability.baxter.com/priorities-goals/index.html.